Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Ides of March and the politics of hate

The news media and the Internet have been set ablaze this week with the political intrigue revolving about statements from two supporters of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, namely Obama's pulpit minister, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, and Clinton's former high-profile supporter Geraldine Ferraro. Admitedly, it is difficult to compare the two divergent sources of controversy on face value. Wright's incendiary statements are oblique attempts to galvanize African-American supporters by emphasizing racial injustice. His rhetoric was vitriolic and mean-spirited, so it was no wonder that Obama felt the need to distance himself even further than he already had because a defense of Wright, who presided over Obama's wedding ceremony and baptized his children, was truly not possible. Obama's repudiation of Wright's statements was posted on Huffington Post at: . For his part, Obama seems sincere, especially since several of Wright's statements were as racist-inspired as any that would have come down the pike from the likes of David Duke. Substitute a few choice phrases here and there and the two could be interchangeable. As to Ferraro, her statement was a bit more veiled. She stated her opinion that suggested that Obama would not have been able to have gone as far as he has in the race to the White House were he not a member of a minority. I am amazed (as was Obama) that someone would suggest that being a minority gave one a treasured status or a leg up on the competition. Surely, Ferraro could see the folly in suggesting anything of the sort. Yet, she refused to back down and separated herself from the Clinton campaign to stem the critical tide that was rising in reaction to her statements. Yet, was what she suggested simply an error in analysis or venomous racism? Frankly, I think the storm against her was more a tempest in a teapot than the deserved reaction to Wright's statements. She was guilty of stupidity, not racism. On this date back in 44 B.C.E., another famous politician, Julius Caesar, was slaughtered for taking a bold stand. He had claimed absolute power and paid the absolute price for it. Perhaps the politics of hate practiced in America is not as extreme as that practiced in Ancient Rome, yet the casualities keep piling up and the course of the campaign is only at its mid-point. I imagine the Republicans are keeping their daggers sharpened for the real battle ahead...after the conventions.

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